[Libs-Or] does Oregon need reference librarians?

Caleb Tucker-Raymond calebt at multcolib.org
Wed Oct 3 15:00:00 PDT 2012

I think the widely held opinion that reference is learned on the job might
be related to my own observation that most libraries won't let a new
librarian do a gosh-darned thing by herself without watching over her
shoulder for for a time, anywhere from three months to three years.
Mentoring? Or hazing? A little of both, maybe.

I do agree that nothing replaces experience for, well, experience.

But there's also something to what Kathy is saying, that there is a
foundation for reference librarianship, in theory, and techniques learned,
and it is well to learn and contemplate those things away from the desk.
This is what graduate school is for, to take time out and think. Our
professional conferences function in the same way.

I honestly don't mind if your search skills aren't so refined. The tools
will continue to change and we all have to keep up. I can wax on "s S1 and
S2" all I want, but I haven't used it in years. But I do hope you've taken
the time to consider why you're doing reference, and what makes it
different than simple customer service in a library setting.

There's a comment on the blog post I linked to originally from the course
instructor, who is teaching a class that *includes* reference, and says she
is spending 11 of 16 weeks of it on reference. She goes on,

"...while the fundamental vocation/techniques of reference are changing,
the values, behaviors, and theories that anchor this professional activity
remain the same."

It does sound like that what students are learning is not too far off from
what some of us are describing as important here. And for the rest of you
who snoozed through it, you can take solace in knowing that current
students' naps are fewer in number. I'm glad I'm not designing library
school curriculum, who knows what *I'd* cut if I had to make the choice.

Thanks Amy for the shout-out! We love having so many enthusiastic people
contribute to Answerland. Now if only we could recruit some more mentors,
with their seas of omniscience....

Caleb Tucker-Raymond

Statewide Reference Service Coordinator
Multnomah County Library
(503) 988-5438
calebt at multco.us
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